August 31, 2014

Well our August camping trip to Algonquin Park was perhaps our best yet. My wife and I spent nearly two weeks enjoying the great outdoors. We participated in a number of interpretive walks (fungi and trees) and talks (Eastern wolves, bear and moose) hosted by park naturalists and we were also fortunate to spend a good deal of time observing the park's incredible wildlife including: Moose, Black Bears, Loons, Ravens and Spruce Grouse. We didn't see any wolves but I did make a recording of them that you can listen to here: Eastern Wolf Pack Howling.

Over the past couple of years park staff have been conducting controlled burns at the Mew Lake airstrip which has kept the area open and allowed the blueberry plants to thrive. This year's bumper crop of blueberries was incredible and attracted several families of black bears, other mammals and many species of birds. All of them, as well as many campers fed on the bounty!

In additon to Algonquin Park also I took pictures around Ottawa as well. We are blessed to have such a variety of natural subjects to photograph here in the nation's capital.

To view more of my August images please click here.

July 31, 2014

After my extraordinary trip in May to southern Ontario, I stayed around the Ottawa area for most of June photographing a variety of wildlife, scenery.

I also photographed "First Nation" dancers at the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival and Annual Competition Powwow in Ottawa. The native regalia was incredible and certainly reflected the pride and care taken by their owners in making them. The competition was exciting and colourful as you would expect.

At the end of June an article that I wrote an article about my southern Ontario trip and it was published on the "Canadian Nature Photographer" website. You can read my web article here: Spring in Point Pelee and Other Southern Ontario Locales.

In July I spent some time visiting family back in New Brunswick and got the opportunity to photograph some of the provinces beautiful scenery like Black Beach (above) on the Bay of Fundy.

Back in Ottawa I followed a pair of Ospreys as they successfuly raised three chicks over the summer.

To view a selection of my June and July images please click here.

May 31, 2014

It's been quite a while since I've uploaded a news article. I am pleased to announce that I retired in March 2104, after nearly 27 years with the Canadian federal government. This has allowed me to have more time for my family and to do more for my photography. I took the opportunity in May to finally spend 12 days in and around Point Pelee National Park in southern Ontario during the spring bird migration. Point Pelee is considered one of the top 15 locations worldwide for birding at that time and I had been hoping to visit there for several years. I was not disappointed. In total I added 25 new species, such as the handsome Magnolia Warbler shown below, to my birding life list and got many new photos.

In addition to visiting Point Pelee, the most southern location in all of Canada, I spent time at nearby Wheatley and Rondeau Provincial Parks. I also visited Murphy's Point Provincial Park during the May long weekend.

To view two pages of my May 2014 images please click here.

Mar 31, 2013

The first three months of 2013 proved exciting ones for my photography. First, it was a great time for winter owl species. We had several Great Gray Owls spend a considerable time around Ottawa. They do not visit here every winter but when they do it is a real pleasure to photograph them.

An even less common winter visitor is the Northern Hawk Owl and I was priviliged to photograph one of these beautiful owls as well. Both Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls are daytime hunters. The Northern Hawk Owl (see below) gets its name from its resemblance, in both appearance and hunting behaviour, to hawks.

I was also very happy to finally photograph a pair of Red Foxes. I knew of a pair of foxes in a particular area and had spent many long, cold hours over two winters patiently waiting for them to pass by during their daily hunts. Foxes, like many predators, are extremely wary and the slightest noise of movement can send them running in the opposite direction. In Canada red foxes can breed from late December to mid-March. After an estimated 25 hours, over two winters, of waiting I was able to create this image of the pair shortly after they had mated.

Aditional photography outings included trips to both Amherst Island, near Kingston, and to Presqu'isle Provincial Park both in Ontario. Amherst Island is often a great pleace to find over-wintering birds of prey including hawks and owls. Presqu'isle Provincial Park hosts a waterfowl festival annually in March when many species start to gather for their spring migration.

To view additional images from the first 3 months of 2013 please click here.

May 31, 2012

As usual my recent outings again focussed on birds. I was particularly lucky to get my best photos ever of the little, skittish Bufflehead duck. I also got some nice images of two completely new bird species for me: the handsome Male Indigo Bunting and the equally stunning Male Scarlet Tanager. These last two had eluded me for several years but with the help of my good friend Rick Dobson I added them to my growing collection of Canadian Birds.

Another exciting time was when I managed to get some images of a magnificent flock of thousands of snow geese in Winchester located about 30 minutes south of Ottawa. Everyone should experience the excitement of thousands of birds take off into the sky all at once! I also photographed flowers, the endangered Blandings Turtle with its brilliant yellow throat, as well as some images of a family of young ground hogs.

To view my spring images please click here.

March 31, 2012

After my return from Costa Rica it took me some time to return to my normal routine. I spent several weeks going through literally thousands of images. I did begin taking photos again and enjoyed getting some winter and early spring images.

Late in March I had to travel to Nanaimo, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. Past experience had taught me to bring my camera with me as I've often been able to capture some nice images early in the morning before work and afterwards before it got too dark. This trip was no exception and perhaps the highlight was when I was able to photograph a group of Orcas (Killer Whales) early one morning as they swam around the rocky point that I was standing on! What a thrill!

Along with the Orcas I managed to also photograph some bald eagles and other wildilfe.

To view more late winter and early spring please click here.

January 31, 2012

I just returned from two full weeks of nature photography in beautiful Costa Rica with four friends. What an absolutely incredible way to begin a new year! This photo trip was a dream that I had since first visiting Costa Rica in 2009 with my wife (see my March 2009 News article). While that too was a wonderful trip it didn't have a photography focus so I had hoped that someday I would be able to return to that beautiful country. I never dreamed that it would be so soon.

This time We visited some well know locales including Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast, the Arenal Observatory Lodge near the recently dormant Arenal Volcano and Basque de Paz lodge in the Cloud Forest region of central Costa Rica. In total we saw and photographed over 110 bird species, 60 of which were Life List additions for me. Also we photographed 10 species of mammals and a number of reptiles, amphibians, insects and of course scenery.

One of the highlights of the trip was the two days that we spent photographing a number of hummingbird species with Greg Basco of Deep Green Photography. Greg has researched and perfected a multi-flash set-up to photograph these flying jewels in a way that virtually eliminates harsh shadows and illuminates the wonderful details of each bird. There are at least 52 species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica and we photographed only 7 of those including one of my favourites the spectacular 6 inch long Violet Sabrewing pictured above.

To view my Costa Rican images please click here.

December 31, 2011

Well the last two months of the year yielded almost all bird images with only a few exceptions. Most of my photos were of migrating waterfowl. In December I had an unexpected trip to Vancouver for work that left me in that West Coast city over a weekend shortly before Christmas.

They say "When you get lemons, make lemonade." so I decided to bring some of my camera gear on the trip. I spent an enjoyable Saturday morning walking around the Lost Lagoon in beautiful Stanley Park. On Sunday a goo friend of mine introduced me to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary south of the city. Both of those locations provided me with some nice images of birds I've rarely seen including the Spotted Towhee, a large colourful sparrow pictured below.

To view more my late fall images please click here.

October 31, 2011

After a wonderful summer vacation trip to New Brunswick in our new camping trailer we returned to Ottawa and work.

I'm happy to announce that one of my photos of Pink Lake (see below) was chosen as the cover for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's (Ottawa Valley) (CPAWS-OV) 2012 calendar entitled "A year in Gatineau Park". The rest of the calendar features lovely seasonal images taken by CPAWS-OV members.

During August, September and October I managed to add one amphibian (blue-spotted salamander), two small mammals (meadow vole and deer mouse) and three new bird species (red-necked phalarope, a junveile Sabine's gull and Hudsonian Godwit) to my collection. The mammals were both photographed during a camping trip to Presqu'ile Provincial Park on Lake Ontario and the birds were captured along the shore of the Ottawa River in Nepean (Western Ottawa).

I also taught some fundamentals of photography to "The Haven" youth group in Kanata. Afterwards we explored the local stream to experiment with what they had learned. They will host a display of their images early in the new year. It was a very rewarding experience.

To view some of my late summer and early fall images please click here.

July 31, 2011

This summer was a wonderful time for photography. In June before heading off for vacation I purchased a Canon 7D camera and a Sigma 17-70mm Optical Stabiliszation lens. With this new combination I was able to retired my trusty original Canon Rebel XT. The new Canon 40D has since become my second camera. The 7D offers up High Definition Video capability and up to 8 still frames per second to capture fast action images. So far I'm loving this camera!

I'm happy to announce that a set of 5 of my photographs was published in Summer/Fall 2011 edition of The Country Connection magazine. The photos were used to accompany an excellent article by Allison Forsythe, on Ottawa's Greenbelt.

During June and July I managed to add a number of new species of flowers and birds to both my personal life lists and to my photo collection. These included the stemless ladyslipper flower and the Swainson's Thrush. We again travelled to New Brunswick in July as part of our vacation and I was able to spend more time photographing beautiful scenery of Grand Manan Island and watching magnificent humpback whales, and other marine life, in the Bay of Fundy.

To view two pages of my summer images please click here.

May 31, 2011

Despite my earlier prediction in March, winter held on in Ottawa into April but I was able to get out a few times to photograph spring migrant birds particularly waterfowl. A number of duck species including Lesser Scaup, Ring-Necked and Bufflehead Ducks frequented waters in the western end of Ottawa including Andrew Haydon Park along the Ottawa River. Other arrivals included raucous Ring-Billed Gulls, Ospreys, raptors specialising in catching fish with spectacular dives and Virginia Rails small, secretive marsh birds with an interesting series of calls

I was pleased to receive an invitation to give a talk on my photography to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) "Nature Night". The talk, held on the evening of May 4th, was entitled "In Search of Nature" and my presentation and photos were warmly received. You can read a review of my talk by CPAWS (Ottawa Valley) volunteer Katie Robertson here. You can learn more about CPAWS by clicking "Home" at the same link.

May is also the time of spring flowers such as white and red trilliums, trout lilies and Jack-in-the-Pulpits. These wildflowers bloom in the woodlands, soaking up the spring sun, before many of the hardwoods trees develop new leaves and create shadows over much of the forest floor.

During the month my wife and I camped at both Bon Echo and Algonquin Provincial Parks. My photo taking was limited at Bon Echo due to rain however Algonquin was much more rewarding with several opportunities to photograph moose. The largest member of the deer family in North America, moose frequent areas along the main highway through the park during this time of year where they feed on salt laden plants. I was also very happy to photograph a male Spruce Grouse, a life list addition for me, during our trip. While Spruce Grouse are frequently seen in Algonquin this beautiful bird had eluded me during my previous visits.

Back in Ottawa I also added photos of wild Columbines and a Red-Headed Woodpecker to my collection.

To view some of my spring images please click here.

March 31, 2011

Well it's the end of March and winter is finally coming to an end although some snow and ice still lingers.

Even in winter however there are always some subjects to photograph. This winter I spent some time photographing a variety of winter birds. Common Redpolls, a winter finch species were frequent visitors to feeders around the region. This afforded many birders and photographers with opportunities to see these active little birds especially the males sporting their raspberry coloured breasts.

In February I spent many hours sitting on ice of the mostly frozen Rideau River trying to photograph ducks. It`s difficult to sit still for long periods at -30 degrees celsius but I marvelled at the Mergansers, Mallards and Common Goldeneyes as they swam and dove in the icy waters for food. I also experimented with some other photos outside my normal area of focus when I came across some unharvested rows of corn that are used as snow breaks locally.

In March I visited Presqu'ile Provincial Park, on Lake Ontario, for the annual spring waterfowl festival, a wonderful opportunity to see many species of ducks, geese and swans. On one of the last days of March I met up with friends and we photographed, Mallards, Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls and the beautiful Wood Duck along the Ottawa River. The wind and sun were both at our backs making inflight photo opportunities frequent.

Finally I was fortunate enough to have my photo of two male Common Goldeneye Ducks in flight chosen as Photo of the Month on "The Canadian Nature Photographer" website. You can find the winning photo here.

To view some of my recent images please click here.

January 12, 2011

Happy New Year everyone! This will be a slightly different report than normal.

On Christmas day I received an unexpected but very nice present. It was an e-mail from Robert Berdan, owner and editor of the website "The Canadian Nature Photographer". Rob had visited my website and, after seeing my work, invited me to submit an article and some photos for posting on his website.

Needless to say I was very flattered and excited about the possibility! I immediately decided to write a piece about photographing nature in Ottawa. My sincere thanks to Rob for the kind invitation.

Read my first published web article entitled: Nature Photography in Ottawa - The Nation's Capital.

Be sure to visit the rest of "The Canadian Nature Photographer" site as well.

December 31, 2010

During the past two months I didn't have many occasions to get out in the field and take photos however those times when I did were memorable. The White-tail deer rut this fall was my best for the photographing bucks in their prime. I found young bucks and some massive mature bucks as well. All were attracted to the many females (does) living along Ottawa's many nature trails.

White-tail bucks are normally very shy around humans. On the other hand does that live around nature trail encounter humans frequently and, unless are bothered, they tolerate people well particularly when you are very quiet, slow moving or patiently wait for them as they forage. If the does are calm, and the bucks are totally focussed on finding a doe who may be ready to mate, then photo opportunities will come you way.

The other group of subjects that I was successful with were Black-Capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches and White-Breasted Nuthatches. While Chickadees are notoriously fearless and inquisitive around humans, both species of Nuthatches will also approach people in search of food. Carrying around a bag of black sunflower seeds or peanuts can ususally result in a small flock of these birds coming to visit for a snack. This usually allows me an opportunity to photograph these birds but you still need to be quick on the shutter button to capture the fast action.

To view some of my recent images please click here.

Oct 31, 2010

After my two summer trips to Canada's east coast in July I had to settle back to reality here in Ottawa. I didn't have much opportunity to photograph wildlife in August but I did get out occasionally to capture a variety of fauna and flora.

One of the highlights in September was when I spent a couple of hours with a pair of Redhead ducks on a rainy morning near the end of the month. They were a life list addition for me.

October was much more productive for me. I travelled to Algonquin Provincial Park for first two days to photograph moose and the park scenery with Micheal Bertelsen on one of his workshops. The first day was very successful and we were able to photograph two cows (one with a calf) and two young bulls. Unfortunately the moose were less cooperative on the second day but we still enjoyed ourselves. You can find the link to Mike's website on my LINKS page.

During the month I also managed to add new fall landscapes, migratory birds and white tail deer photos to my collection.

To view some of my recent images please click here.

July 31, 2010

It’s been an exciting summer so far. I’ve had two wonderful trips, in July, to Canada’s East Coast to photograph it’s beauty and to visit family and friends.

The first trip was to Newfoundland with our oldest daughter Laura. She was born there but had not been back since she was a toddler. We visited St. John’s and much of the Avalon Peninsula as well as taking a short side trip to the Bonavista Peninsula. We saw and photographed, humpback whales, gannets, puffins and moose as well as some beautiful coastal scenery.

In New Brunswick my wife Kay and I took day trips to: Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy and Kouchibouguac National Park along the Northumberland Strait. During this trip we saw finback whales, more coastal scenery and a black bear.

To view some of my trip images please click here.

May 31, 2010

The spring of 2010 has been an exciting time for photography. Not only have the spring bird migrants arrived but small mammals, turtles and frogs have also appeared as have the spring flowers including the white trillium, Ontario’s provincial flower.

I was also fortunate enough to add two new life-list additions to my bird collection: the Northern Parula Warbler, photographed at my par home back in New Brunswick, and the Eastern Screech Owl photographed here in Ottawa.

To view some of my 2010 springtime images please click here.

March 31, 2010

Unlike recent winters the winter of 2009/2010 was fairly slow in Ottawa for normal winter migrants like the Bohemian Waxwing, Pine Grosbeak and Crossbill. Many of these species migrated further south to find sufficient supplies of food. Despite that fact I was able to experience some other local wildlife up close including the wild turkey, Gray (Hungarian) Partridge, white tail deer.

In addition, a mid-March day trip to Algonquin provincial park yielded some photos of Gray Jays, a very accommodating red fox and, my first Pine Martins. There is always something to photograph when you have some time to look.

To see some of the images mentioned please click here.

January 31, 2010

This month marks the first anniversary of my website. I'm very pleased with the positive response that I have received to date and I would like to thank everyone who has supported my photography efforts.

Although the overall website layout will remain the same, I will be making some changes to my galleries. I'll be adding additional photos to my galleries as well as subdividing several of the galleries in a more organised fashion. For example the flora will in the future have three sub-galleries: Fungi, Wild Flowers and Plants and, Garden Flowers. I hope that you'll come back often to see these changes as they occur.

Thanks for a great first year!

In the meantime to see some of my 2009-2010 winter images please click here.

December 31, 2009

Throughout the fall and early winter Ottawa hosts a number of migrating bird species including song birds and waterfowl.

Each year there are literally tens of thousands of Canada Geese that stop to feed and rest on farmland around Ottawa in preparation for their migration south. This November was one of the warmest on record so a number of less common ducks and geese spent some extended periods of time here. This afforded local bird watchers and photographers many opportunities to see and photograph a number of species.

I was fortunate to add several new species to my photo collection and to get some of my best photographs to date of others.

To view some of my fall bird migration images please click here.

October 12, 2009

Each August and September Ottawa and the surrounding towns and villages hold exhibitions and fairs. Families, especially those with young children, look forward to these times to enjoy rides on the midway, view livestock exhibitions and eat special treats like toffee apples and cotton candy.

This year I observed a series of ploughing matches involving either horses, antique tractors and ploughs or, modern tractors. I really enjoyed the horse ploughing as I've always been attracted to the big work breeds such as Belgians, Percherons and Clydesdales.

Another first for me was to attempt to photograph a midway at night. The lights and movement of the numerous rides offer a bright and colourful canvas. I was fortunate to arrive just before sunset and I managed to capture some images with the beautiful deep blue sky as a background.

I'm happy to note that I now have a new web page header logo. It was designed by my nephew PJ Stephen, a graphic artist. PJ also designed a related logo (below) that you'll now find on the back of my photo note and on my business cards. My thanks go out to PJ for a job well done.

Finally I must also thank my friend and colleague Patrice Cousineau. Without Patrice's computer skills as my 'webmaster' this whole site would not have been possible. Originally I approached Patrice for some advice on basic web design. He must have known how far in I was over my head because he volunteered to develop my site for me. I know that this site has occupied much more of his time then I ever wanted it to but I am very grateful for all of his help. Merci beaucoup Patrice!

To view some of my recent images please click here.

July 31, 2009

Canada's capital city, Ottawa, contains many beautiful buildings and museums. One of the most impressive groups of these buildings can be found on Parliament Hill located in the city's downtown core. Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy meaning that Queen Elizabeth II is our Head of State.

"The Hill", as it is known locally, houses three main buildings of Gothic revival design: the East, Centre and West Blocks. Together these buildings house the seat of Canada's Parliamentary government and Senate. The Centre Block contains both the House of Commons Chamber and the Senate Chamber where elected Members of Parliament and appointed Senators meet respectively. The Centre Block has it's distinctive Peace Tower in front facing south towards the city and the Parliamentary Library at the back facing the Ottawa River. The other buildings house offices and meetings rooms for Parliamentary and Senate members and their staff.

The Parliamentary Library was begun in 1850 but was not completed until 1876. During a fire in 1916 the library, although receiving some damage, was saved while most of the rest of the Centre Block was destroyed and then rebuilt.

The Peace Tower is a bell and clock tower and has a height of 92.2 metres (302 feet, 6 inches). It was named in honour of the thousands of Canadians who offered the final sacrifices for their country during World War I. A Memoriam Chamber inside it honours Canada's war dead. A visit to its observation deck, located above the bells and beneath the clocks, affords the visitor with a beautiful view of the surrounding city. The flag on the flagpole, at its top, flies proudly over Canada.

To take a brief photographic tour of the Centre Block and the surrounding area click here.

May 31, 2009

After a long winter in Ottawa, springtime is refreshing. Spring flowers including many like the tiny "Spring Beauty" and Ontario's provincial flower, the White Trillium, start to bloom before the leaves arrive on the trees. This timing allows these woodland flowers to receive all the benefit of the spring sun.

Soon leaves start to bud in what seem like a thousand shades of green. What was open forest turns to shaded glens where sunlight dapples through new leaves.

Of course many of our wonderful breeding birds return from their southern haunts. Some species are just passing through to places further north but others stay establish territories and begin the task of raising young. A myriad of bird songs echos through woodlands, fields and marshes. Familiar species like the American Robin and the Yellow Warbler can be head everywhere. In recent years wild turkeys have expanded their range and their numbers here. Big Tom turkeys can be seen strutting at the edge of farm fields.

As the sun warms the waters of the lakes and ponds frogs and turtles arise from their long rest beneath the mud. Squirrels and other small mammals continue to forage on last year's seeds until new growth appears.

It's a wonderful time in Ottawa and the surrounding countryside so enjoy it.

To see some beautiful images taken during springtime in Ottawa click here.

March 31, 2009

Costa Rica is located in Central America and is bordered on the north by Nicaragua and on the south by Panama. The diversity of ecosystems, plants, insects and large number of bird (>800), mammal (~200), reptile (~220) and amphibian (~200) species make this country a photographers paradise.

On March 9, 2009 I was fortunate to accompany my wife Kay and nearly 20 other Ottawa Public and Catholic schoolboards teachers on Algonquin College's "See Earth 2009" course to beautiful Costa Rica. The 10 day trip offered the teachers the opportunity to learn about the ecology, biodiversity and sustainable agricultural practices of Costa Rica. My thanks to the Algonquin See Earth organisers for permitting to let me join them.

Click here to find out more about Algonquin's See Earth program.

In preparation for the trip I had contacted two great photographers: Doug Brown and Glenn Bartley who I had "met" through one of the of bird photography websites I frequent. I knew that they each had spent time photographing birds in Costa Rica and they were both more than happy to share tips on gear selection and how to protect my equipment for the high humidity that I would face. Thanks guys!

Because our schedule during the trip was so busy, I had only a little time to concentrate solely on creating images. That being said I was still rewarded with many memorable experiences such as being eye to eye with a mother 2 toed sloth and her baby, watching both Keeled-billed and Chestnut-mandibled toucans feeding on cecropia fruit in the same tree and seeing the crater of the Poas Volcano as the cloud cover broke and the sun came out.

I hope to have another opportunity to visit this wonderful country again. As the "Ticos" (what native Costa Rican's call themselves) often say:

Pura Vida! ("life is good")

To see some of my images from this glorious trip click here.

January 20th, 2009

I am pleased to announce the release of my first book of my photographs entitled "Nature's Wonders Through my Eyes". Published through, it is an 80 page 8" x 10" soft cover format book which covers a range of my work represented by over 150 images.

Although a large proportion of the book features bird images (my favourite photography subject) it does contain chapters on scenery (landscapes), flora, mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well as insects and spiders.

The book is available at a cost of $45 (includes shipping and handling). Sample pages from the book can be found here.

All photographs are copyright of Stephen J Stephen.

Permission is required to use any photograph on this website.